Vote for our 2013 “The Hard Way Award” winner: Bathroom Remodel

three-vintage-bathsEvery year I choose a winner of our annual “The Hard Way Award” — given to a reader(s) for their project remodel that often, went above and beyond in terms of overcoming obstacles and/or showing tenacity and inventiveness and/or Bang for the Buck. Sometimes the projects are spendy, sometimes thrifty — everyone’s situation is unique, we like to showcase the diversity. This year, I’m expanding the awards to encompass a “Bathroom” winner and a “Kitchen” winner. AND, we’re making it reader’s choice! I chose the finalists… but yes, you get to help select a reader-winner. First we’ll do “The Hard Way Award — Favorite Bathroom Remodel”. Who will our winner be: Sarah… Nanette & Jim… or Mike & Lindsey? Take a look — vote — share with your friends –, note, voting will close Monday morning. 

UPDATE: Poll now closed. Winner to be announced shortly (after we choose Kitchens winner, too.)

#1 — Sarah’s Lavender Lovely

retro-lavendar-bathroom vintage purple bath before#1 — Sarah’s Lavender Lovely — It’s not too often we see a bathroom with lavender tile and fixtures — and it’s not too often we see a character like Roundhouse Sarah. Yes, Sarah was a big contributor to the blog in 2013 — we saw lots of her Gilbert Spindel round house — and lots of her inspired ideas to breathe fresh new life into it.  This bathroom was among her projects — Click here to see the complete story about Sarah’s lavender bathroom. My favorite part of this project: Her creative use of Miracle Method. Well. And the purple.

#2 — Nanette & Jim’s Blue Beauty 

vintage-bathroom-bluebathroom before#2 — Nanette & Jim’s Blue Beauty — What to do when there’s no bathroom in the basement? Well, you can do like Nanette and Jim — and build one that looks like it’s always been there. This was an epic project that included a lot of planning, considering the size of the space. Oh my, I would never want to leave this bathroom. Before you vote, read the complete story and see more photos of Nanette & Jim’s project by clicking here.

#3 — Mike & Lindsey Retro-Modern Revamp 

retro-remodeled-pink-and-grey-bathroom Pink-bathroom-Before#3 — Mike & Lindsey’s Retro-Modern Revamp — What if you like the “bones” of your existing bathroom, but want to give it a more modern feel? Mike and Lindsey took this approach. Moreover, this is the couple’s second pink bathroom makeover — initially they thought about gutting, but once they discovered our websites, they became converts — and saved thousands of dollars by working with the bathrooms they had. They also became “advocates.” Mike was invited to speak about his pink bathroom projects and the historical importance of pink bathrooms at a statewide historic preservation conference! Before you vote, read the complete story and see more photos of Mike & Lindsey’s project by clicking here.

VOTE NOW and consider:

  • Tenacity
  • Ingenuity
  • Bang for the Buck



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  1. Mary Elizabeth says

    Well, it was so hard to vote, because all three bathrooms are beautifully done and all three contestants used/saved vintage materials. Personally, I learned something new from each of them and thank them for their contributions to the site.

  2. Beth Day says

    I have the same sink as Nanette & Jim in my pink bathroom! It’s looking a little worse for wear, unfortunately. Does anyone know if there’s a way to re-glaze it or what it’s called so I can look for a replacement? Thanks!

    • pam kueber says

      I do not think that a sink made of porcelain china — like Nanette & Jim’s — can be re-porcelained. The finish is like that of a dinner plate.

      A sink that is made of cast iron or steel, and which has an enamel finish, can, though — although it’s expensive. These kinds of sinks were more common as countertop installations, though. Here’s the only source that I know of for TRUE re-porcelaining:

      To replace it should be “relatively” easy — you need to hunt salvage, craigslist, ReStore, etc. See this story:

      • Beth Day says

        Thanks, Pam! I think I’ll have to find a replacement for my sink, so I’ll start watching CraigsList. By the way, I am LOVING my “I Saved a Pink Bathroom” shirt—Thanks so much for offering those!

        • pam kueber says

          Ahhh, you have a shirt! Send me a photo of you wearing it, if you like! Note also: I have the same exact sink as Nanette & Jim’s. I found it by placing an ad in my local newspaper (before the days of craigslist, today I would use craigslist for free.) A woman nearby had it in her basement in storage after a remodel — she sold it to me for $65 including the legs and faucet. I had to have the faucet restored — I would not do that again, I’d buy new/vintage-style, which we have resources for today!

        • says

          We were able to find a sink with legs at our local Menard’s. It matches one in the other bathroom! We also found the old style square towel bars. Light fixtures is another story.

  3. Debbie says

    One of the (many) things I love about this website is that the reader renovation articles show “before” and “after” pictures of the entire process. In magazines there’s usually just one tiny “before” photo that you can barely see, but Retro Renovation walks us through the work visually, step by step. If it’s a painstaking, frustrating, loooooong process, that’s not sugar-coated. That’s truly helpful for people like me: my “idea process” is much more advanced than my DIY skill set!

  4. maria apicella says

    they are all fabulous bathrooms, but it was nanette and jim’s that gave me the idea to do my own basement bathroom, down to the studs, to look as if it was original to my 1955 house. that idea, so cohesive, had not occurred to me before. thank you

  5. Maryanna says

    All three of these are amazing rooms…I love them all! Sooo hard to choose a winner! I don’t blame you for putting this up for a vote…I wouldn’t be able to choose just one myself, either. 🙂

  6. Janice says

    Three awesome nominations! Having done a “tear down to the studs” bathroom renovation and all ready to start a 2nd one next week, I can feel the pain each of these homeowners went through and admire their vision and determination. Bravo to all of you!

  7. says

    All three did a fabulous job on their remodels. We are currently doing a partial remodel on our 1922 bathroom, which was a horrible mess when we bought the house 4 months ago. Only the bathtub was original, all else was a hodge podge of warped particle board. We plan to do a full remodel next year and are inspired by what the three couples did here!

  8. cellen says

    This is like choosing which child you love the most. I love them all just the same but for different unique reasons! I say they all win! I write in # 4 – all of the above.

  9. Diane in CO says

    Couldn’t possibly vote, shouldn’t vote, won’t vote — all three are absolutely wonderful projects with beautiful results! Bravo all!

  10. Amanda says

    Congrats to all 3 nominees, you guys are an inspiration! So hard to choose. Sarah’s reminds me of my grandparents purple bathroom! Hey Retro Renovators, lets start a “Save the Purple Bathrooms” group. Sarah’s bathroom will be the poster child!

  11. Scott says

    I am with Diane, what a difficult choice.

    Putting a bathroom so convincingly vintage where none existed before (the Blue Beauty) is beyond impressive but I think wanting a particular color so badly that you were willing to pioneer new techniques (Lavender Lovely) is the embodiment of doing it the hard way.

    I also feel like I learned a lot from this room, namely ANY color can be great when used the right way and impressive results do not necessarily require all the fixtures to be the same color, mix and match can be fantastic too.

  12. says

    I voted for the Lavender bathroom because it’s such an unusual color to do. My MIL had the prettiest lavette that was lavender fixtures and her hand-painted mural on the walls. I’ve always loved a lavender bathroom!

  13. Joe says

    WOW! This is a tough choice for sure. I may actually be the very first entry in the 2014 Bathroom remodel contest. Just have to pick a paint color and I can get some good pictures to post.

  14. Joe Felice says

    I love them all, and would have any of them in a heart beat! I picked #2, because it came out closer to period-authentic, by a whisker. (At least, that’s what my kitties told me.) And seemed like it took the most effort. I love, love, love the lilac one, but do not recall that this was such a popular color for bathrooms back then. (Purple has always been MY favorite color.)

  15. Robin, NV says

    Amazing work accomplished by all! I voted for Sarah’s lavender lav because of the dedication it must have taken to preserve this unusual color.

  16. retro cat says

    I could not pick one! Every one is A*M*A*Z*I*N*G! I would love to have all of them in my home! Kudos to all of the homeowners!

  17. RebeccaD says

    It was a difficult choice, but the effort involved in regrouting the pink bathroom deserves serious kudos. It would have been SOOOOO much easier to just rip it out and start from scratch, but the home owners actually did it “the hard way” to do it right and save not one, but two pink bathrooms!

    That said, all of the rooms are great!

  18. Cynthia says

    All are so beautifully done, each is a star in its own way, very, very hard decision. I loved the basement bathroom, yet would have preferred a floor plan providing a completely private bathroom rather than one that’s open to view for anyone on the way into the the laundry room.

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